MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Coming to performance theaters this April is a play that offers a fresh take on the male genitalia, DickTalk. The stimulating production revolves around five characters and four dicks, discussing three social issues in two hours for one big finish. The performance is spearheaded by renowned theater director Phil Noble and V-Roll Media Ventures Producer Eboy Vinarao.
In this exclusive interview with adobo Magazine, DickTalk’s Phil and Eboy, together with Trifecta Brand Lab COO and V-Roll Media Ventures Creative Director Luz Evidente-Alquinto, share blow-by-blow accounts of how the play came together, why they chose this topic, and what audiences can expect from the play.
adobo: How did you come up with the idea for DickTalk?
Eboy Vinarao: Siguro ang pinaka-basis lang po namin is to go for an out-of-the-box concept. That time, we came from the pandemic when everything was being discussed on social media. We talked about politics, celebrities, world peace, everything. So sabi namin, “What is left to discuss?” Ang daming pinag–uusapan outside of us, so why don’t we go back to the basics? Let’s go personal — bakit di natin pag–usapan kung anong nasa sistema natin as an individual?
“Why don’t we talk about something else? Why don’t we talk about our dicks?” we asked. It’s something that is very interesting. Looking back, I think in recent history and in recent years, walang platform, walang TV show, or even a theater show that talks about it. So we went for it, and the rest is history.
Phil Noble: It all started when Eboy approached me during the pandemic. [He said,] “You know, I’m thinking of this project. The title is DickTalk.” And I said, “Ah, interesting title. Bakit DickTalk?” Sabi niya, “Parang TikTok, DickTalk.” Kasi during the pandemic, TiktTok nang TikTok ang mga tao, di ba? So I said, “Have you seen The Vagina Monologues? Ito yung answer natin sa The Vagina Monologues.”
We brainstormed about the characters and the title. And then yung battle cry ko, “Why not have a trans man?” So we researched for a good trans man to work with us and then after that, we made a biography about these five characters that we wanted to have in our script.
Then I asked for writers; I said I wanted a man and a woman — we included a woman because I wanted [that perspective] while we are doing the whole play, or writing the whole script. And I want it to be fun, not preachy. We would talk about the male genitals but it will represent manhood or man in society, and their definition now of what a man is. It may be political in a sense that we are trying to convey something about the man’s position in a woman’s life, in society, and then principles niya on whatever is happening in society. But it all starts with the genitals.
What is it about the dick and all it metaphorically represents that make them interesting topics for a play?
Phil: In our play, the dick is just a takeoff to talk about the lives of these people. I think it’d be interesting for women and people from the LGBTQIA+ community to watch this as well — 18 years old and up. It will be interesting because we’re not just talking about the man, but the journey of the man habang tinatakbo niya yung exploration niya in life, whether young or old. I think it will be fun to watch this play. And we are not really going just dick-dick-dick here — what we want is to start a conversation about this.
Kasi sabi ko nga, may Women’s Day, may Women’s Month. Parang di napapag-usapan ang lalaki. Why not? Dahil ba ang lalaki ay ayan na, okay na? May other issues — LGBTQIA+, children’s rights, but men? For DickTalk, sabi ko kay Eboy this is not a gay play — this is a man’s play. A play for men and for everyone to see the journey ng mga kalalakihan in our society.
How did you develop each character?
Phil: Isang young person si Junjun who is exploring his sexuality; and then we have the trans man who is dreaming to be a man; a heterosexual that everybody’s thinking to be gay but is actually not; an aging man who is suffering from erectile dysfunction, and his erectile dysfunction equals the thought, “Am I still the father? Am I still the family man na matatawag if it’s not erecting na?”; and the last one is a porn star. Yun naman kinakalakal — the dick as a weapon to earn a living — and what’s at stake as a 35 year-old porn star, or anak ng porn star who has a dream of becoming a chef. And in our story, he is also suffering from breast cancer. For a man to have that, it’s interesting to talk about. Lahat ng limang ito, the characters, are all dreamers and we show what they want to do in their life.
During our first meeting, nag-latag ako na these are the five characters that may be interesting to talk about. One of the writers, si Bench, is sweet and [typical] lalaki mag-isip. Sinulat niya all those stories. But of course, nagbigay kami ng mga points: “Oh, si Junjun nasa exploratory stage ng sexuality. Bakit di natin ibaluktot yung etits niya? Tapos yung matanda, ‘di na siya natitigasan tapos tingin niya ‘di na siya tatay. So nag-plant lang kami ng some interesting situations for their characters and kung ano yung problem na kinakaharap nila. And then nag-evolve na yung kwento.
Ara, who is one of the writers, siya yung babae na kinuha namin. Dalawang utak na yung nag–babanggaan [to flesh out the stories]. And then after that, we had to talk to some friends of ours who provided women’s perspectives and we asked, “Okay ba to?” Kasi ayaw din naman namin makasakit ng other genders or personalities.
Eboy: The creative process is a collaboration spearheaded by our director. What’s good about the creative direction provided by Direk Phil was that every single character has to have this battle cry in order for them to not just be fun, but also substantial. Para magkaroon ng lalim ang ipapalabas namin. Bawat isa sa kanila ay may issues — personal, emotional, and mental — that actually affect their personality, their lives. From the producer’s point of view naman, I think it’s also us talking to different target markets and audiences.
As you can see, we have characters that are aged 17, 25, 35, and a senior citizen at 65. So basically, it’s talking to a lot of different age groups and demographics. That’s from the producer’s point of view. Ibang usapan naman din po the reason why we included an LGBTQIA+ character. But it’s also giving importance sa community. Their reception was really good because they appreciated the idea that we showcased something that can become the platform for their voice. I do understand, we all do understand, na not all the time napag–uusapan o napagbibigyan sila ng pagkakataon to share their voice. If I’m not mistaken, sabi ni Nil Nodalo, who is our trans man actor playing a trans man character, that this is actually the first time na isang trans man character is being given a platform. So, on that regard, I’d say as a producer, it’s something that is very fulfilling for me and for us.
Right now, we’re presenting five characters and five different stories of men. Pero what we intend is hindi lang sila. Hopefully, the show will be able to run for many seasons and in the future, feature other characters na maging platform pa rin for different men; and when we say “men,” we’re not only talking about men by nature. We’re also talking about men by preference. Sabi nga ni Direk Phil, hindi lang ito tungkol sa mga kalalakihan.
This isn’t just a show about men, but it’s actually also for other genders. That’s how I see it. Feeling ko kaming mga lalaki, hindi naman kami manonood ng tungkol sa kalalakihan din eh. But it’s really about giving women and the other genders a way for them to understand men. And we all know how important that is.
Phil: That’s what we’re always saying — we want to open a conversation. We are not saying, “Ito na yun, this is right, ito ang mga lalaki.” No. We just want to open yung mga nagtatagong voices there to talk about it, and what we’re excited about is what happens after the show. Are we talking about the play? And are we talking about the stories of men na kilala niyo? Mas excited ako, personally, doon after watching — the reflection of the audience and talking about it.
Eboy: We also did our research and interviews in order for us to come up with the details that we are presenting sa bawat character. Every single detail is true. I think that’s one thing that I liked about how Direk Phil orchestrated the creatives. Yes, magpapatawa tayo. We want to give the audience an experience. Gusto namin silang patawanin habang nanonood. Gusto namin silang paiyakin. Gusto namin silang tumayo at maging proud sa kanilang mga sarili. But everything that we will do has to be truthful, even the smallest details.
We consulted some medical experts as well. And for the trans man character, we actually did interviews. We we want things to be truthful and in order for us to realize this, we put a real trans man actor there. Kaya po dumating sa aming buhay si sir Nil Nodalo. And we are just really very happy because he’s not only an actor; he’s not only a trans man; he’s actually an advocate too. He advocates for the LGBT community. I think that’s what’s special about the character-designing of the show.
How did the actors take in the story and script for DickTalk?
Phil: Nag–pave ng way yung lahat ng actors in terms of schedule. Nakakatuwa lang kasi when we gave them the schedule, sila pa ang nakipag–argue sa kanilang mga managers. They want to do it. It’s a blessing for us to have them. And may vision din sila as an actor. They want to add value sa pagiging actor nila, especially when they found out it’s a monologue. You’ll be talking on stage for 15 minutes alone — just you and the props on the stage. Challenge siya. And it’s good that they are embracing the whole process and smooth naman yung nangyayari sa amin. We have a definite schedule of rehearsal, but outside of rehearsal, I ask them to have a script analysis to talk about their character. And they’re working with me for hours talking about it, arranging all the lines that fits them. So ang sarap ng feeling at sila din, they are masaya at contented sa nangyayari sa kanila.
Eboy: Believer sila of the project and of the art. They’re not just magaling. I think we couldn’t ask for more in terms of talent.
Phil: Tumaba nga nang tumaba yung content ng script kasi kakampi lang naman namin when we were writing the trans man segment [initially] ay Google. And when Nil came in, he said, “Oh ito ganyan na. Ito, that’s good.” Ang laking tulong. And the four actors, kapag nag–didiscuss, natututo din kay Nil. And si Nil din, natututo sa apat na lalaki talaga sa mga kwento during standby time.
Phil: They’re really passionate about reaching and exploring more sa text ng script. Kaya sinasabi ko nga sa kanila, very minimal set pieces are surrounding you during the play. It’s the text, the audience, and you. Yun lang. Kaya it’s a challenge for you as an actor. They’re so proud of this project and they talk about it with their friends. And I think maganda yun para sa kanila, na hindi na sila nahihiya to talk about it. Months before rehearsal, we were so careful about saying the “titi” word. But now, normal na. Parang nagkwekwentuhan lang kami, especially the actors.
What elements make the play timely for the modern man in 2023, especially on themes concerning masculinity?
Phil: Well for me, it’s putting the dick in the right perspective. It’s not just in porn or something. Siguro yun yung masasabi ko kasi just like a dick, tinatago siya. You can’t talk about it, but you can only watch it in porn or in Youtube, or in biology or sex education class. But really, it’s about putting it in a man’s perspective in relation to a man’s life. And at the same time, ang dami din news na nangyayari — politically, scientifically, and on the digital platform. Back to basics tayo. Pag–usapan natin ang titi naman at ano talaga ito. Hindi siya in a scientific, biological way — ano talaga to?
Eboy: I guess siguro social media is also a big part of it. With the emergence of social media, lahat naging opinionated. Nagkaroon ng platform ang tao to say whatever it is they want to say. At dahil doon, I guess may evolution in terms of acceptance sa mga bagay–bagay. There are also situations sa mga characters natin that relates to social media and to current situations. I think it’s very interesting to present something that talks about dicks in this era of social media.
Can you expound more on what the importance is of including a trans perspective on masculinity and manhood? What was the importance and significance when you were deciding to include Rob in the story?
Luz Evidente-Alquinto: In the first place kasi, we’ve been talking about a lot of rights. There are feminists and LGBTQ, but to us, when we were thinking about this concept, sabi namin, “There’s nobody talking about the trans man. Bakit?” Para sa amin kasi, it’s a matter of choice. They identify as male from the outset, and honestly speaking, they’ve probably been receiving a lot of flak for doing that. Kasi sa perspective ng ibang tao, “Hindi, babae talaga kayo.” But it’s different, especially when we’ve come to know people like Nil. Mas naiintindihan namin na it’s not just gender dysphoria. It’s something that they really know in their hearts is true. They believe that they’re male. So for us, it’s important to put that topic across to be able to understand what goes on in their brains, in their hearts na lalaki talaga sila.
It’s very timely kasi nobody has actually talked about it. In fact, doon ko pa rin nakikita yung double standard eh. We’re very familiar with the concept of homosexuality in men. Pero pag–dating sa babae na gusto maging lalaki, ang tingin pa rin sakanila ay tomboy or lesbian. There’s all those labels that are all derogatory. So why not give them a platform to discuss what it’s really like to be a trans man in this day and age when everything is supposed to be open? We expect people to be open–minded but in fact, they’re actually not. So we think it’s about time that somebody helped them put their perspective out there.
Phil: There’s this beautiful line in the play sa role ni Nil, si Rob. “Ako walang titi. Kailangan ba para maging lalaki, kailangan magkaroon ng titi? Ang titi ko ay metaphorical.” And that makes him a man. It is important for him to be part of the play kasi may pinaglalaban din siya. And even in our rehearsals, we never thought na babae siya. Lalaki siya nung dumating siya. Until now, lalaki ang turing namin sa kaniya.
If there was one thing that you wanted to ensure the audience takes away, what would it be for each of you personally?
Eboy: Ako siguro, it’s always the mindset of getting the good things out of the bad. But I’m not saying this is bad, no. We all started by thinking of what to present that is funny, that is experiential — it’s that simple. But as we go along, we have responsible, good–hearted, very creative people doing the project so laging may something that is good coming out. People might say that a theater play that talks about dicks is still taboo and should not be discussed. I guess we see it the other way around. For us, there’s more to dicks than meets the eye. Maraming magagandang bagay at makabuluhang bagay that will come out of this discussion. I guess that’s the purpose of this project.
Phil: Para sa akin, the dick is just a representation of men. It’s just a representation kung sino yung mga lalaki in our world.
Luz: Coming from a woman’s perspective, lahat tayo may lalaki sa buhay: we all have fathers, we may have male siblings, nephews, friends who are male. So sa akin, the important thing to take away from this play is that we all have our reasons why we act a certain way, why we think a certain way. Kumbaga, we owe it to each other to be able to understand where that person is coming from, whether it’s influenced by a life decision or influenced by something biological, like having a penis and having a different way of looking at things. Everybody deserves to be heard and to be understood in that respect. That’s something that we want the audience to go home with. Sabi nga namin, isa ‘tong masustansyang usapan. It starts the conversation. And we want to be part of that group that starts this kind of conversation and to make it a little bit more comfortable.
For people who are considering watching the play, or are excited to watch the play now, what’s one word or phrase to describe the DickTalk experience?
Phil: For me, eye-opener.
Eboy: Masarap. Masarap na experience siya. That’s one thing that we assure.
Luz: Masustansya. That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s food for the thought. Kaya masustansya, and it’s putting the talk behind the dick.
DickTalk is coming to theaters for a limited time from April 15-23, 2023 at the RCBC Theater, Makati City. Tickets are now available on TicketWorld via https://premier.ticketworld.com.ph/ with prices ranging from PHP 2,000 for Balcony; PHP 2,500 for Lodge; PHP 3,050 for Orchestra Side; and PHP 3,650 for Orchestra Center.